by Jenna Schade July 04, 2019 3 Comments
At times, our Chloe struggles more than usual with self regulation and 'keeping up' with the demand on her... like when a big change occurs or a new school year starts. Then even during calmer times, just a standard school day brings major sensory overwhelm. For those of you who are also trying to help your exhausted, overloaded and emotional child every afternoon... you know what I'm referring to.
Here are some ideas I have gathered over the years from my experience with Chloe, and from my work with Occupational Therapists. These are for the car trip home or throughout the afternoon once at home. Our aim is to provide Chloe with an instant 'retreat' away from the sensory world as soon as she finishes school and hopefully help to calm an exhausted brain.
What I find helps (but not always all at the same time)...
- large dark sunnies as soon as we get in the car
- a favourite soft toy waiting for a cuddle in the car
- noise cancelling headphones (preferably audio ones with gentle music playing) in the car if appropriate
- sun shade over the side window to block out some of the chaotic visual input
- crunchy, cold food in the car (like celery or cucumber)
- weighted lap blanket in the car (if not too hot)
- go straight home if possible so that self-regulation can be supported in a safe, familiar environment (especially in the first few weeks of a new school term)
- don't ask many (or any) questions until later in the evening
- have a design or inventing task waiting at home (apparently inventing is the solution to big emotions like anger or worry... as when the brain is INVENTING it's almost impossible for it to also be angry at the same time)
- a vibration cushion in the car or at home (this can calm racing, anxious thoughts as the brain is flooded with the vibration message)
- a visual relaxer (like a bubble timer, glitter stick or lava lamp) in the car or at home, to bring focus of attention and support a calm feeling
- reduce anxiety by following the same routine (supported by a visual chart and/or a calendar if possible) every day... thereby reducing the 'unknown' factor which can feel very unsafe and alarming
- lavender oil in the bath (we have found that doing dinner first, then bath is a better routine for settling into bedtime)
- a very early bedtime during the school term, by blocking out natural light with curtains in summer, turning most lights off, and playing meditation or relaxation music
- deep pressure massage using hands or a gym ball, applying firm even pressure in a continuous motion from head to toes and back again
I know this list is long... but you could always start with a few tips that sit well with you, and adjust from there. Follow your instincts and you'll be surprised at what a difference these sensory changes can make!
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by Jenna Schade March 28, 2021
by Jenna Schade January 20, 2021 3 Comments
Tonight was it.
I decided it was the last fight I would have with our ASD, PDA, ADHD, SPD daughter Chloe about the two main topics of brushing teeth and having a bath or shower. She will be 9 in a few months. She is capable of these tasks but finds them much trickier to do, and much more physically uncomfortable than approximately 99% of her peers. Yes she is the 1% that somehow hasn't progressed or improved with her aversion to these tasks in the 8 years we have been going through the same routine and polite requests every single day. Let that sink in for a moment. I'm talking almost 3,000 times where I have said to her "it's time for your bath" and many more thousand times I have said "let's brush your teeth". Yet still, almost every day, our relationship gets to experience a disagreement about these basic tasks.
by Jenna Schade February 08, 2020
In our family, self-regulation has not come naturally. From an early age we noticed that our Chloe needed a lot more help from us to manage her thoughts and feelings… especially at bedtime.
I remember the first time I noticed how other children her age were starting to control their impulses, manage their attention and organise their behaviour whereas she would struggle.
Despite giving Chloe the same co-regulation opportunities as her older sister, despite the responsive and warm interactions we had, despite giving her just the right amount of support, despite my coaching and modelling efforts, she just never seemed ready to self sooth or to truly trust the adults in her life.